Painter Nguyen Quoc Huy: I forced myself to choose another way

Wednesday, 2018-11-21 14:59:30
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Painter Nguyen Quoc Huy
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NDO – Despite using traditional lacquer, celebrated Vietnamese painter Nguyen Quoc Huy chose a difficult way, in which he transformed the weakness of lacquer techniques into his strength.

The painter granted an interview to a Nhan Dan Weekly reporter, talking about his exhibition ‘Mien co tich’ (Fairyland) which has opened in Hanoi.

Q: How long did it take you to produce the paintings at the exhibition ‘Fairyland’? Why did you choose lacquer?

A: It took me 12 years to prepare for the exhibition. For me, lacquer is a traditional material in Vietnam and it is durable against the weather conditions in our country. Various lacquer materials include wood, paint, lipstick, eggshell and pearl shell that derived from nature. Therefore, they are less affected by natural conditions. In addition to its durability, lacquer is the only material with which we can bring out the world.

Q: It has been 17 years since the first exhibition. Has your artistic vision changed?

A: Since the first solo exhibition in 2001, I have been very considerate in opening the second one, so I prepared thoroughly.

Over the past 17 years, my artistic vision has always been consistent. I always respect the tradition and have tried to uphold that tradition to a new level, to do more than previous generations.

Q: ‘Fairyland’ highlights a peaceful Vietnam, with villages, pagodas, ancient trees and vaults of leaves. Using lacquer techniques, you painted each leaf and each tree root scrupulously without any humans. Why?

A: Yes. I rarely drew people in the paintings of the exhibition ‘Fairyland’. I hope viewers will have their own space. Facing an empty space, they will not be self-conscious and can freely express their emotions, fantasies and memories.

Q: Clouds and mist were depicted miraculously and differently in your artworks. Could you share about your experience of exploiting the weakness of lacquer?

A: I also utilise the strengths of lacquer to create my artworks. However, about ten years ago, I realised that these painting techniques were used by many people, therefore, I forced myself to choose another way.

Then I decided to utilise all the weaknesses of lacquer. Its strength is the contrast of the red, black and yellow colours, but I chose the light contrast. Pursuing this problematic way, I faced numerous difficulties.

Regarding the clouds and mist in my paintings, it took me ten years to find a rational method to describe the lightness of the air and steam. Depicting something that seems invisible with lacquer materials was really a challenge.

'Som Ho Guom' (Sword lake in early morning) - 90cm x 120cm (2017).

Q: Have you ever felt tired and lonely when pursuing a different way?

A: Fatigue and feeling lonely hit me when my experiments failed. Sometimes I was discouraged. However, the tiredness has vanished because I gained the initial achievements and my colleagues recognised my separate path in lacquer. I am very happy because I have completed my plan.

Thank you very much!

Painter Nguyen Quoc Huy was born in 1971 in Hanoi. He won numerous awards and participated in over 100 exhibitions in Vietnam and many other countries, including France, the UK, China and Republic of Korea. The exhibition ‘Fairyland’ will run until November 17, displaying 29 large scaled paintings.